How state art robs the people

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title="Mulholland2" src="" alt="" width="800" height="529" srcset=" 800w, 300w, 83w" sizes="(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px" />Chances are you won’t have heard of David Mulholland //--> (1946-2005), a painter of and from Middlesbrough. Until last year, when a group of friends devoted to the preservation of his memory sent me some of his pictures, neither had I. The work hit me immediately as authentic, born of
painted South Bank.” google_ad_width = 970; Apart from a brief foray as a young seaman, when he painted foreign scenes, it remained that way. He eventually returned home,




​ in a secondary school, painted his life and friends, and sometimes the

surrounding countryside. His work records a personal journey and history.

Given the enormous sums now thrown uncritically and unchallenged at contemporary art, one ought to feel safe

that excellence in whatever style or medium is somewhere being brought to our attention. But despite the fact that, courtesy of the National Lottery, there are expensive immense new galleries all over the country, the opposite continues to be true. The same few artists dominate news, features and critical coverage.
They also dominate all the new galleries because these are controlled exclusively by State Art believers. For them, a foreign artist of no discernible distinction, spotted amidst the trendy google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; jumble and waffle of an international biennale, will always take precedence over the likes of Mulholland.

83w" sizes="(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px" />If you live in the north, as I do increasingly, you can find Anish Kapoor signing books in Middlesbrough –


where his £2.5 million ‘regenerating’ fishing net was unveiled two years ago and
still stands bleakly abandoned and pointless in wasteland – and at a retrospective in

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the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (see Moping Owl, p. 10). In London he is at Lisson Gallery, all over the Royal google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; Academy, //--> and even

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it over the Olympics’ site. No wonder he needs 25 assistants
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and three studios to churn out his coloured holes and facile shiny mirrors to meet demand. Such a monoculture as is represented by Kapoor doesn’t add to the diversity we deserve, because the rooms he and his ilk occupy with stupefying frequency are denied to others. Newspaper google_ad_width = 970; profiles of Kapoor last aired only three months ago when The Orbit was unveiled – having already

appeared on google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; dozens of occasions over the last twenty years –  have again been warmed up and paraphrased by others for his new /* 9-970x90 */ shows in London and Yorkshire. This insulting process of indoctrination goes unmentioned elsewhere, as
though it’s taken for granted that only a handful of artists merit such relentless promotion. The only difference in these disgustingly fawning and uncritical pieces is the sentence where they state what Kapoor is currently worth – and it keeps getting bigger, the google_ad_width = 970; last number cited being £80 million. For

the rest of us, it is impossible not to know Kapoor’s life story off by heart. If

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only it were interesting. If only all this approbation were the result of his having produced something truly outstanding and comparable with the best from the past… But all that emerges is more of the same branded deluxe google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; ornaments for the grotesque mansions of the immodest rich. And please believe me when I say there is no point


visiting his exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, because you’ve seen it many many times before. It takes seconds to walk around. And, do you know what,
some of the holes are so dark you can’t be quite sure where the bottom is. How clever is that?

The neglect of so many for the sake of so few is


a phenomenon of the celebrity culture. How long will

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it be before this system is exposed as a monumental racket dreamed up by a cabal of public officials, src="//"> commercial dealers and auctioneers with the aim of creating false gods, rigging the market and handsomely feathering the nests of all concerned. Watching this process as it unfolds is sickening and the fact that they have not seen fit to investigate this monopoly brings disgrace on the Culture Select Committee of the House of Commons. They could have made a difference, if only by establishing once and for all that such an all-powerful orthodoxy exists in contemporary art, whose purpose is to discriminate against the likes of David Mulholland.

Increasingly, I resent this editing of what we’ve been allowed to see, dictated as it is by the tastes of half a dozen bureaucrats with Serota at their head. This President-For-Life has singlehandedly done more damage than anyone in the history of British art to the public’s ability

to see the work of a

wide range of British artists. He is a self-important scourge building ever greater monuments to his own vanity and tastes, and yet he receives an uncritical press. When is this fellow going to go, and leave us alone? How long will it be before curators in regional galleries can see all art again for its qualities and not be forced to follow trends out of
fear for their careers?

If it is not the work of regional galleries to show the work of their best local artists what is it their job to do? And what an irony it is that the modern art gallery in Middlesbrough is showing coincident with Mulholland’s memorial show an exhibition dealing with “concepts of ‘home’” … starring Tate trustee Jeremy Deller.

David Mulholland spoke a local language, a ‘home’ language, which is understood internationally by all people. No human being is excluded from its sentiments. State


talk an international language which, like esperanto, is understood by hardly anyone. There ought to be room for both persuasions, but we are force fed only one.

David Lee

The Jackdaw

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November-December 2012